I heard through the grapevine that a car got stuck driving up the railroad tracks downtown. Could you try to (ahem) “track” down this rumor. If true, do we need to erect Do Not Enter signs at every narrow-gauge crossing? Are people really that clueless as to not distinguish train tracks from alleys? Sign me as Otto Mears, “Pathfinder of the San Juans”
Action Line thinks there must be something in the snow, because this wasn’t the only instance last week of badly executed left turns followed by impromptu jaunts up Durango’s famed narrow gauge route.
Track-trekking occurred three – count ’em, three – times. That’s according to city personnel and verified by Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad security.
“The first one was a PT Cruiser that turned off of Seventh Street and onto the tracks,” said our good friend Steve Barkley, ace code enforcement officer for the city.
“They made it up to the Post Office before getting stuck between the gaps in the railroad ties.”
It must have been “a really bumpy ride,” Steve said smoothly.
The misadventurous motorist persuaded perplexed pedestrians to push the vehicle forward to Eighth Street.
Back on blacktop, the PT Cruiser went on its way, doubtlessly traumatized by the travails of trailblazing.
The next two instances of intrepid interloping happened in the same place: between Wells Fargo and Brew Pub & Kitchen.
On New Year’s Eve, according to Barkley, a vehicle with colorful license plates made a misadvised maneuver onto the tracks.
Action Line asked: “Gosh, Steve, what color were the license plates?”
“That would be a yellow and red,” he said with a chuckle.
What was the New Mexican’s “loco motive” for making a wrong turn onto the right-of-way?
“The young lady was confused,” said Ryan Hildner, a Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad security officer who, along with train heavy equipment and co-workers, pulled the compact vehicle back to College Drive.
“She wasn’t familiar with Durango,” Ryan said. “She thought the ‘One Way’ sign on the alley meant to turn right immediately. Granted, there was a lot of snow in the tracks.”
As luck would have it, Ryan snapped a photo of the ignominious instance.
A hat tip to Ryan, not only for helping the hapless but providing Action Line with proof that he doesn’t make this stuff up.
The third episode occurred Wednesday morning, when “an older couple” apparently mistook narrow gauge tracks for Narrow Gauge Avenue.
Bystanders shoveled and pushed the car back to the relative safety of a busy road.
“I’ve never seen this over the past couple of years,” said Ryan, as the railroad crewman waved vehicles along College Avenue after stopping traffic for a departing Winter Train on Saturday morning.
“Then last week – boom! – here were three cases of people mistaking railroad tracks for the road,” he lamented. “I can’t explain it, other than the snow.”
So, let’s be more careful out there. Drivers, do a good turn daily.
And if you want to get fresh tracks, head to Purgatory and not the railyard downtown.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if one of your 2019 resolutions is to “not drive on railroad tracks whenever possible.”